82 & 83 – British Police Symphony Orchestra
Date(s) – 17th June 2017, 7:30 pm
Venue – Worcester Cathedral, Worcester WR1 2LA
It was an absolute honour for The British Police Symphony Orchestra to have been involved in this project and our performance in Worcester Cathedral will be held as one of our most memorable high points in our 29 years together.
The pre-concert talks by both Toby and Laura were outstanding and the organisation, support and resources behind the whole project were superb. All support providers were enormously helpful and Mike Eden was of vital assistance with his prior knowledge and practical help on the day. Approximately 400 people attended the concert – this is double the usual expectation of audience at a dry hire event and many visitors sat to watch and listen the open rehearsal.
All members of the BPSO were truly moved and all stated that they felt privileged to have shared the experience with each other and such an appreciative audience, in such an inspirational venue. Several members had played the piece before and knew what to expect, but all said that there was something incredibly powerful about the impact of the building and the size of the audience. The conversations about the power of the film and the incredible impact of the score, particularly the percussive elements went on long into the night and the next morning during rehearsal.
As the co-ordinator of our outreach project, PlayOut! I was delighted that we had a young man sitting in with the orchestra as part of the Open Rehearsal. His name is Dale and he is visually impaired and profoundly autistic. He would have struggled to see the screen and probably had no concept of WW1 and yet he was moved by the music and the mood created, to stand, march and salute, try to conduct us all and later to put his head into his hands and shake it in sadness. This was just an incredible moment for me and demonstrated the overwhelming emotion of the whole event. His parents were delighted that he had the opportunity to meet with Laura and I attach a photograph of Dale in action (see gallery)
Below are photos of our first rehearsal with the score at Hindlip Hall, HQ of West Mercia Police Force. We had the film running at the time and the impact of the music was enormous.
The BPSO was truly grateful for the financial support towards our outreach work.
The four projects were highly successful and were as follows:
– An open rehearsal in the cathedral during the afternoon of the performance.
– A PlayOut! Workshop with 20 students in the Autism Unit of Walkwood Middle School, Redditch. Due to the nature of the chidrens’conditions, they were unable to join us in the cathedral, but all had opportunities to play unfamiliar instruments and to socialise with members of the orchestra.
– A PlayOut! Workshop with 30 children and young adults, all of whom are either severely visually impaired or completely blind. The morning at New College Worcester was an absolute delight and as a result of Somme 100, these children will continue to develop their relationship with the BPSO by performing with us at our annual concerts in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, in December.
– An Afternoon Tea Party with String Quartet for Military Veterans at the Territorial Army Headquarters in Worcester. One of the veterans with whom we all spent time that afternoon was the standard bearer for The Last Post at the end of the performance in the cathedral.
Please find below a link to film footage of the four workshops. We hope that you will be as proud of it as we are, for it is due to your support that this all happened. The film was made by James Atkinson, who has very strong links to Worcester and to the Cathedral.
He is also responsible for the photographs below.
Steph Owen (British Police Symphony Orchestra)
“To be part of such an incredible commemorative project as The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour is a huge honour for the British Police Symphony Orchestra. Our first rehearsal was particularly poignant, watching the film and beginning our work to learn the score. It will be a privilege to play our part in remembering the sacrifice of those who gave their lives during not only the Battle of the Somme but the whole of World War One.”
Paul West, former Chief Constable of West Mercia Police and a member of the British Police Symphony Orchestra said:
The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour arrives in Worcester in June
Highlight of the evening on Saturday, June 17, in Worcester Cathedral will be a screening of the film The Battle of the Somme, which was the first feature length documentary about war and changed the way both cinema and film was perceived by the public.
Shot and first screened in 1916, it showed to the folks back home the heroics of the British “Tommies” and the horrors they faced amid the mud, trenches, bombs and bullets fighting for King and country on foreign soil. The film was made by British official cinematographers Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell and In the year of its release around 20 million people, almost half the population of Britain at the time, watched it, many hoping to see the image of a loved-one or friend.
The screening will be accompanied by composer Laura Rossi’s live soundtrack performed by the British Police Symphony Orchestra.
The event in Worcester is one of the last dates on The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour and Ms Rossi and Dr Toby Haggith, senior curator at The Imperial War Museum, will give pre-performance talks about the battle and the musical score
Paul West, former Chief Constable of West Mercia Police and a member of the British Police Symphony Orchestra said: “To be part of such an incredible commemorative project as The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour is a huge honour for the British Police Symphony Orchestra and we are working hard to ensure our Orchestra does justice to Laura Rossi’s incredibly moving score. We look forward to playing our part in remembering the sacrifice of those who gave their lives during not only the Battle of the Somme but the whole of World War One.”
Dr Adrian Gregson, Worcestershire World War One Hundred Project Manager said: “The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest battles in human history lasting 141 days with more than one million men wounded or killed. The Worcestershire Regiment played its part and the Regiment lost over 1000 men with a further 362 Worcestershire men killed from a range of other regiments and units.
“The Battle of the Somme film was hugely significant for those at home at the time of its release and has proved no less significant 100 years later. The event at Worcester Cathedral will be an exceptional moment as part of our County-wide commemorative programme as we remember those who gave their lives at the Battle of the Somme.”